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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  July 12, 2014 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT

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fault lines al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> they're locking the doors... >> ground breaking... >> we have to get out of here... >> truth seeking... award winning investigative documentary series fault lines the deported only on al jazeera america this is techknow. a show about innovations that can change lives. we're going to explore the intersection of hardware and humanity and we are doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. let's check out the team of hard core nerves. costa is an engineer designing bionic eyes to space satellites. we are in the oi for a life-changing moments. >> we are hours away. how long have you been waiting for surgery? >> lisa has not been able to see
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for decades. she's about to be fitted with amazing technology. will it work. a real-life drama. >> you tell us when and if you see anything. >> i'm seeing flashes. marita davison is a biologist specialising in ecology and revolution. tonight it may look like i'll yeps, but this is real. >> this adult is basically carcass. >> insects cattle it out and the health of california's orange crop is at stake. i'm phil torres. i'm an entomologist. tonight the great white shark makes a comeback. that's our team, now let's do some science.
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hey, guys, welcome to "techknow." i'm phil torres jind by marita davison and costa. you designed bionic eyes yourself. and this story you got to look there. >> you talk about changing the world and huge innovation in science and technology, talking about restoring vision for the blind. this new technology approved by the f.d.a. - weigh saw it installed in a patient. it's amazing stuff. let's check it out. [ ♪ music ] . >> reporter: in a few minutes
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lisa will undergo an innovative surgery procedure, taking her from darkness to eventually seeing shapes outlines and images. >> and we are literally hours right? >> yes. >> reporter: how long have you been waiting? >> a year and a half since i heard about it and trying to get though the process, approvals. i can't believe it's here. >> reporter: lisa has rhettinal pigmentosa, a degenerative disease. sight loss can be severe to complete blindness. >> i see shadows, and sometimes silo wets, depending on the light in the room. it's gradual, since my mid 20s. probably in the left 7 to 10 years i couldn't get around on my own. >> dr lisa will perform the surgery, just the third in the u.s.
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and the first at the university of southern california. >> i met lisa for the first time about one year ago. i knew right away that she was an excellent candidate. she is a person who is - has profound vision loss but has not let it keep her spirit down. she is extremely positive, hard-working and faces each challenge with a lot of energy. this is the kind of person who device. >> reporter: it is called the argus ii. >> you need to have at least 10% of your optic nerve intact because it needs the optic nerve to send the information to the brain. if it is cut or completely destroyed, this sort of device doesn't work. but there are millions of people around the world who have enough optic nerve function that we can put the device into the eye.
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it's exciting to do that. >> reporter: during the surgery a device is implanted on to the retina. made up of 60 electrodes. >> the portion sitting on the outer wall of the eye needs to be slipped behind the eye muscle and sowed on the surface of the eye at a precise location so the array sits perfectly on the center of the retina and can stimulate the right part of the rhett jipa. >> imagine it as a sophisticated band aid on top of the retina, allowing them to stimulate the neurons. >> reporter: it's a delicate operation taking four hours as doctors must use measurement and placement. placement is tested before the eye is sown up, to prevent leakage. after a woke of healing patients like lisa are fitted with glass, with a tiny camera. they stream images in real-time.
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the signals are sent to a wireless transmitter, relaying the signals to the sensors implanted on the rhett juna. they stimulate the retina with electric impulses. they send messages to the visual cortex portion of the brain. after lisa receives the argus ii system it will be weeks before she outlines the system. why? her brain adds have yousual cortex has not been used -- have not been used in years. >> a lot of patients have not seen for 30, 40, 50 years. you have to start with the stimulation and getting the brain to be able to interpret the signals and start to understand and start to be able to use and see again. so that period takes a while. the relearning. here we are. a week after your surgery. the eye looks good. >> reporter: lisa is going in
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surgery. >> you can put those on. >> reporter: each elect robe will be stimulated individually and the signal tweaked for comfort. there's a chance for the first time in a decade lisa will see something. experience? >> usually they see spots of light or electrical stimulation, spots of light. over a period of time they can put the spots of light together to create and look at forms. >> i'm seeing flashes of flight. >> you are. flashing. >> great. white. >> how big are the dots. >> probably bin-hole size. the lines are maybe like a side. >> that's perfect. that's exactly what we are trying to do. that's great.
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she is way ahead of schedule. we are excited. all the electrodes are working on this device, she's seeing. this is great. it's a fantastic result for being a week out. >> it's exciting. i'm really excited. i can't wait to get to use if more and get more results it. >> i kind of acquaint it to seeing a baby crawl, walk and run. the brain is relearning how it sees again with the implant. >> reporter: for patients like independence. >> at home i'm okay. if i'm out somewhere i'd like to walk somewhere without hanging on to someone. >> reporter: two weeks after this lisa was sent these pictures of lisa walking outside. anyone. costa, that was incredible.
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doing? >> she's doing really well. full recovery. she's seeing stars. you have to remember, she has to relearn to see. it doesn't turn on and you cap see everything. it's a nuisancery input. the brain has to rewire itself to process the data coming in through the eyes. it was probably the most fascinating part of the story, not just an on/off switch. the brain has to rewire and pros the input of vision. >> when you think of a rhettinal implant, the signals they pass through, electrical signals have to be shaped and form in a way you understand it. they hadn't figured how to recreate the electrical signals or how to recreate those perfectly. it's a nuisancely input. it's a different sense. >> by implanting the devices,
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are they able to collect data on working. >> yes, they have a user base, and they are not entirely sure what the appropriate kind of signal is for each person. as the brain learns and we watch how they rewire themselves to understand what is put into the eye, we are learning more and more every day on how to create ice. >> this is not just the gift of the vision, it's learning how the brain works. >> yes, and it's important because there's different ways to connect to the vision system. had is one, as we learn more, we are uncovering how to talk to the rest of the visual system. >> we'll plug in to other areas. >> exactly. really fascinating. thank you for sharing your expertise and sharing your story. coming up after the break, rita,
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i like orange juice. are they in trouble. >> you are not alone. they might be. i looked at a skis that has decimated oranges in florida, and maybe in california. iranians iranians >> al jazeera america presents >> i'm not a genius, but... i feel like that kid that doesn't need to go to practice. >> 15 stories one incredible journey edge of eighteen coming september only on al jazeera america
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>> now inroducing, the new al jazeea america mobile news app. get our exclusive in depth, reporting when you want it. a global perspective wherever you are. the major headlines in context. mashable says... you'll never miss the latest news >> they will continue looking for suvivors... >> the potential for energy
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production is huge... >> no noise, no clutter, just real reporting. the new al jazeera america mobile app, available for your apple and android mobile device. download it now [ ♪ music ] welcome to "techknow", rita, are the oranges and the limes trouble. >> one of the places where we make a lot of orange juice, there's a disease called citrus greening spread by a bug. it's devastating orange groves throughout the state. the jury is out in california. the bugs are making the way over here. biologists are trying to control the disease with another bug, a parasite that eats the bug that spreads the disease from the inside out. .
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>> reporter: you wouldn't know it at first clarnings but an en -- glance, but an epic battle of the bugs is taking place on orange trees in southern california. it's not only a matter of life or death for the insects. what is ultimately at stake is the survival of the citrus industry itself. california is responsible for 80% of the nation's fresh orange market. scientists are concerned about cyst are yous greening -- citrus greening, a disease. it's decimated thousands of groves in florida. and spread by a tiny bug. calf is placing -- california is placing its hopes on a parasitic wasp from pakistan. this can transmit the citrus greening disease when it feeds on the leaves of orange trees. >> think of an adult agent citrus as a flying syringe, it
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has wings, a mouth pump like needle, is full of bacteria and puts it into a tree. >> mark is an epto meteorologist, and -- entomologist, and his search took him to pakistan. >> as a biologically trained scientist i go back to the area where the incident evolved. we suspect it's the indian subcontinent. we chose app area within pak star, pan jab. the climate has a 70% climate match to california, great for us. we want the enemies to be preadapted to the hot dry summers and cold damp winters. >> in pakistan he found a parasitic wasp species. >> what we see under the scope with the camera and the video screen is biology in action.
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>> she is laying app egg now. >> that's what she's doing. >> the egg is laid. what's to that lar va. >> the egg will hatch. the wasp lava will scrape away at the belly of the citrus. >> the parasitic wasp weakens and kills its host. >> the female is chewing the circular hole in the head region. even though it's followed out, it provide application. >> reporter: this adult is basically chewing its way out of a carcass. >> that's right, an empty carcass. like something out of the exor sis, like spinning a head. here she comes, she's popping out. this is like the alien scene in "alien", eating the host from
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the inside out. she is done. cleans herself off. straitens out the wings, and then -- straightens out the wings and she takes off. >> releasing the wasp would be a natural way to suppress the other bug. you are using reason introduced species to control enter introduced species. is there another risk. pakistani parasites don't recognise our areas as food. will the end up in the wilderness. it's unlikely they'll attack and reproduce on the native sue ids. >> reporter: the u.s. government agrees and the u.s. da will breeding. >> it's a small wasp. >> reporter: david morgan oversees the mass rearing at the food and agriculture's
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facility. >> we have an insect factory. we mass produce insect. we have to grow up the plant that the pest feeds on, and the pest, and then the beneficial insect on the pest. we follow it through. we release them throughout southern california. this is a map of l.a. country. on it is an algorithm evaluating disease. >> this map is telling us where you might expect the disease, not where it is. >> we look for the hot zones and release more insects in the higher risk areas, and fewer insects in locations where we think there's less likelihood of the insects appearing. >> initially they are focussing release efforts in urban areas, where home owners may be reluctant to use pesticides. the battle so save the orange trees is on.
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it turns out there's an unexpected ally. another nonnative species that could slow down efforts to ramp up the wasp population. the argentine ant. >> argentine ant is an ipp vase if species and has been present california. >> they feast on the sugary waste product and protect them if the par asciatic wasps. >> the ants are on the colony and harvest the white sugars. the para site came in. >> that's the wasp. they are eating one up there. female. >> the argentinianants are eating the wasp. >> part of the effort is educating home openers on the importance of trying to control the ants. >> it's high drama. >> there's a lot riding on the survivorship of the said.
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>> do you have a few wasps? >> reporter: in the meantime they aim to produce 1 million wasps for release. >> see you later. bye. so there's ants eating the wasps that are eating the sill ids which has a bacteria eating the orange. >> it's complex. >> what will get the ant. >> talk about the evolution of behaviours. these complex behaviours that happen really fast. we have a plant introduced to california, which is typically a desert. we are growing citrus in a desert. we have a bug that came from asia causing the disease and are introducing another bug to control the bugs, and there's ants from argentina that are eating the bugs that are causing the disease. so it's very, very complex. >> that's what i love about the
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fighting fire with fire. nonnative versus nonnative to protect the citrus. scientists learn when you introduce something new, you think it will fix things, it doesn't go that way. >> scientists did testing over a long period of time where they looked at whether the watches would effect other insects. that. >> it was comforting to see the confidence in which he said it wouldn't happen. things evofl. and the wasps over five generations will not go to a native species. given 20 or 100, and maybe all of a sudden they'll move over to a native species. >> a lot of people think we'll have to develop a line of trees that are resistant to the trees. that's down the road. >> keep us posted. now. >> it may be scarce, you never know
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after the break a win for conservationists. in the form of a great white shark off the coast in california. >> this.
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>> this, is what we do. >> al jazeera america. [ ♪ music ] hey, etch, welcome back to techknow. i'm phil torres, with marr itema and costa. you and i had the opportunity to get up and personal with a creature that most people don't want to be up close and personnel with - sharks. both of us walked away from the experience with a love for the beasts. that's one of the reasons why this next story just off the coast of california is some good news. . >> reporter: return of the great white shark.
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no, it's not a b movie title, no conservationist can take credit for the script allowing it to happen. according to an international study led by the florida programme for shark research, the white shark population off the coast of california is much health year than previously thought. reachers statement more than 2,000 whites call the waters off the golden state home. a previous study conducted by stanford university in 2011 estimated 300 or so white sharks were in the same area. as for the why? the buffet line re opened. scientist involved in the study credit the resurgent to decades of state and protection for the fish and marine mammals that the great whites feed on, in addition to bans on fishing the white sharks themselves, and in conserve efforts that made california's air and water cleaner, and you have the
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maybings of a success story -- makings of a success story for the apex predator of the oaks. one of the authors of the paper is chris low, and you spent some time with him. >> yes, chris low is a pre-eminent shark biologies, and he's pioneering influence on shark behaviour, using robots following the sharks. >> this will change how we study the o. >> i spent time with him, i trust him. he knows his stuff. he was part of the paper. it's great. we don't get success stories often. basically saying that sharks are doing better than we thought. that is thanks to a lot of different factors, but mainly regulation and activist work over decades, leading to a
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recovery of the population of an apex predator. >> it's a great success and a lesson that took decades to get to the point, and lots of coordinated effort. it shows if we want to conserve the creatures like sharks, we need to get to work. >> how bad was it. how many sharks were there and how do we fix the problem? >> sharks are difficult to study. they are mysterious, they live under water and are hard to follow. shark populations were not doing well, and a lot of the rest of the food chain - sharks are at the stop of the food chain. they control all the other things, and a lot of populations indicated poor quality in the o. they are rebounding. this is one species of shark
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off one coast, one country with conservation efforts. already a lot of coasts and a lot of sharks suffering. this is absolutely great news. but it shows that, like, we need a focus on the other species that don't get as much press as the great white. >> there's a little bit of danger. chris low spoke about this, in having the good news stifle further conservation ests or further funding attempts to continue the research. people may say "okay, our job is down, let's move on." home. usual. >> from bionic eyes to the future of my orange juice to great white sharks. here on "techknow" we cover the diversity of subjects, and i kind of love them all. it was an awesome episode. that's it for now.
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see you next time on techknow. dive deep into these stories and go behind the stories. follow our expert contributors on twitter, facebook, google+ > this is al jazeera america, i'm thomas drayton no new york of the let's get you caught up on the top stories this hour. [ gunfire ] u.n. calls for a ceasefire - it's ignored as israel intensified attacks on gaza. paving the way for a new president. secretary of state john kerry brokers a deal to end the fight between afghanistan's presidential candidates. a migrant child who died

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